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SFIA Urges Congress to Move on Trade Issues

Date: 11/19/14

SILVER SPRING, MD – November 19, 2014 – In letters sent to Congressional leaders, as part of a broader trade coalition, the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) is requesting retroactive renewal of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) and giving the President passage of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) to facilitate passage of free trade agreements.

GSP provides preferential duty treatment on certain products made in any of 140 countries with developing economies, many of which SFIA members have a presence in. The current GSP expired on July 31, 2013 and this is the longest lapse in the 40-year history of GSP. The GSP expiration is estimated to cost businesses nearly $2 million daily.

“U.S. Trade policy has been somewhat dormant recently and it is our hope that the next Congress will inject new life into our trade agenda,” said Bill Sells, SFIA Vice President of Government & Public Affairs. “Tariffs serve as a barrier to trade and over the past two years both the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB) and now the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) have lapsed, leading to higher tariffs on a variety of sports and fitness products.  Passage of a new MTB and renewal of GSP will lower costs to consumers and generate sales.”

The SFIA along with the National Retail Federation (NRF), the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), and over 600 other business groups and companies joined in signing the GSP letter, which can be viewed here.

While there is hope the GSP will be renewed during the lame duck session, the timeframe for TPA is within the next year. TPA is an agreement between Congress and the President that any trade agreements submitted to Congress will not be amended. Congress must grant the President TPA and the President must agree to follow the guidelines Congress sets forth in the TPA when negotiating trade agreements. According to the letter sent, “the U.S. must seize opportunities with ongoing and future U.S. trade agreements – to expand U.S. commerce with other countries”.

“Free Trade Agreements have been a critical element of U.S. trade policy and giving the President the ability to negotiate agreements and submit them to Congress for a straight up or down vote with no amendments will facilitate passage of new trade deals. A vibrant trade agenda is good for SFIA members and the U.S. economy. It is our hope that joining forces with others in the business community in support of a pro-trade policies will make trade a high priority in the new Congress.”

The SFIA signed onto the TPA letter with over 200 other organizations including Walmart Target. Read the TPA letter here.

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